Assignment for In Cold Blood:
A. Syntax: Capote is known for his elaborate sentence structure and use of parallelism. Pick a paragraph in which Capote’s syntax is especially impressive and write an analysis explaining why his sentence structure is effective.
B. Character Development
Capote carefully depicts the personalities of secondary characters, such as Al Dewey. Why do you think he does this and what do these detailed portraits add to the book? Which of the secondary characters do you find most memorable and why?
What techniques does Capote use to characterize the killers? Does he make you feel sympathetic toward Dick or Perry?
Is Capote an objective or subjective narrator? Use ample evidence from the book for support.
Describe Holcomb. In what ways is it an ordinary town? In what ways is it different? Why does the author spend so much time describing the town?
How does the description of the jail at the beginning of Part IV contribute to the development of the novel?
E. Plot / Structure
How does Capote build suspense despite the fact that readers know the ultimate outcome from the beginning of In Cold Blood?
What is the effect of the author’s use of montage (repeatedly switching back-and-forth between Holcomb and the approaching killers)?
Capote recounts the story in a certain order, beginning with the day of the murder, and proceeding to the discovery of the bodies, the investigation of the crime and capture of the criminals, and the trial and execution. At what point does Capote depict the murder scene? How does he work Perry’s and Dick’s backgrounds into the narrative? Think of alternative plot structures that Capote could have used, and analyze why you think Capote structures the events as he does.
II. Expository Topics
Capote is credited with originating the “nonfiction novel” with In Cold Blood. How is its creation significant? If you use other sources to answer this question, please cite them.
B. Read and respond to one of the articles on this website: http://www.ljworld.com/specials/incoldblood/
III. Argumentative Topics
A. Does Dick deserve the death penalty? Does Perry? Does anyone? You must use evidence from the book to support your answer; you may use outside resources as well, as long as you provide appropriate citations in MLA format.
B. Truman Capote said “timeliness” was important to writing great journalism. Forty years after In Cold Blood’s first publication, does the book still possess an element of “timeliness”?
C. Which is more important: nature or nurture? You must use evidence from the book to support your answer; you may use outside resources as well, as long as you provide appropriate citations in MLA format.
Your Due Date is Monday, April 12th by 3:30 p.m.